Mary Ellen Wells
I’ve had experience, as a healthcare executive, seeing the results of people who did not have advance care plans, and their families floundered as a result. I hope my involvement with Light the Legacy can help spread the word and can assist with putting systems in place to make ACP something that is in place for everyone.
Board Member—Vice Chair
I’ve experienced the painfulness of decisions made by family while dying. I have lost all six of my siblings to painful deaths. Most at ages under age 67. I want everyone to die with dignity. I want to be part of encouraging everyone to document their end of life care preferences.
I joined the Honoring Choices Board because of my family experiences. I was the first child in 30 years on one side of my family, so almost everyone I grew up with has passed, many too young. Through this, I’ve held many roles: healthcare executive, caregiver, child, niece, and granddaughter, and I’ve come to believe strongly in creating a plan and sharing it with those we love and trust the most in this world. I am excited to support the Honoring Choices mission!
Working as a hospitalist physician required me to manage countless family conferences in end of life situations. Commonly a health care directive was not available, or too vague to provide direction to loved ones. I saw this as a huge missed opportunity for both patients and families, which has motivated me to help promote advance care planning in our community.
I have joined the Board because its mission and vision align with my ideology regarding personal healthcare choices. I believe in the organization’s goal to create integrated educational programs to empower people in charting their healthcare planning and wellness.
Advance care planning is crucial to each of us receiving the kind of health care we want. Light the Legacy is educating members of our community on the importance of this work and I am honored to be a part of it.
My interest in serving on the Honoring Choices board is that I believe making an end-of-life plan reduces stress for loved ones in times of grief.
Lynn knows firsthand how important it is to complete your health care directive when young and healthy. At age 39, her first husband Bruce was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and Lynn found herself making some of the most difficult decisions of her life on his behalf. However, she could do so with peace of mind and confidence because Bruce left her with a road map – his Health Care Directive, which he they had completed together years earlier. Lynn was not only grateful for Bruce’s Health Care Directive, but the many conversations they had long before his passing. As Lynn would tell anyone – “completing your Health Care Directive is one of the greatest gifts of love you can leave your loved ones.”
Lynn holds a degree in Interdepartmental Speech Communications from St. Cloud State University and is certified through Respecting Choices® as an advance care planning facilitator and instructor for advance care planning facilitators and POLST (Providers Orders for Life Sustaining Treatments) facilitators. She is author of the book The Tear Catcher – God’s Hand in Your Heartache and the play An Almost Murder Mystery, and is an experienced speaker who is passionate about empowering people to discuss end-of-life issues, motivating them to complete health care directives, and generating this momentum throughout Minnesota and beyond.
Nora has seen the importance of advance care planning play out time and time again at the bedside and even after death, as families struggle to lay their loved ones to rest respectfully in accordance to unknown wishes. She is dedicated to de-stigmatizing conversations around aging, care, and death.
Nora comes to Light the Legacy from Duluth, MN by way of Oakland, CA, where she spent the last 4 years working as a funeral director and swimming in the San Francisco Bay. Though her background is in small scale vegetable and flower farming, she made a shift 5 years ago towards the end-of-life field, and has trained as a death doula, served as a hospice volunteer, and is currently studying towards her Masters in Divinity at Starr King School for the Ministry. She hopes to serve as a hospice chaplain and eventually create a path that brings earth and death work together.